High Performing Schools Get Awards

Governor Siegelman handed out awards at a special ceremony for schools that have dramatically improved sat-9 test scores Friday. Willie Thornton, principal of Lowndes County middle school says, "it is a good feeling, I tell you it is just like winning the Grammy award."

Arguably, the Governor's Academic Improvement Awards are more important than a Grammy. Schools come away with prizes, money and higher self-esteem. "This was a great morale booster for these schools to receive this recognition and to go back now with a sense of accomplishment having been recognized and receiving publicity for it is tremendous for our schools," says Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Clinton Carter.

Many of the schools followed the same path to success: a wide scale team approach that involved students, teachers and parents. Dr. Donna Nelson at Harrison Elementary says, "we looked at all of our weaknesses, and we targeted those weaknesses and we worked hard to improve those particular skills that the students really scored low in previous years."

This year Alabama's standardized test scores are the highest ever. But will they stay up? Some insiders say Alabama's constitution needs to change so education funding will be more stable. "Constitutional reform would help us reach our goal of making Alabama the education state much easier, but will we reach it anyway? Absolutely," says Governor Siegelman.

Schools that climbed one academic level, for instance going from caution to clear, receive $2,000. Climbing two levels nets schools $3,000. And, climbing three or four levels brings in $5,000.